Monday, September 28, 2009

Defense Roundup

Obama's dithering on Afghanistan is simultaneously a potential national security tragedy and the potential long-term undoing of any Democratic party credibiility on national security issues for maybe a decade or so. The war in Afghanistan may not poll well right now, but Obama's handling of it will poll much, much worse in the event of either a pull-out or --perhaps worse yet-- a limited engagement even more reminiscent of Vietnam than is presently the case.

(1) Obama has apparently only spoken with General McChrystal once since taking office. Good job, Barry.

(2) I've been holding back on criticism of Secretary Gates, but I frankly do not believe him when he said this to George Stephanopoulos (bold added):

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, as you said, you hope to have this done in a few weeks and you want to avoid failure, as well. But the president has not made any -- any decision at all on resources?

Has he -- has he ruled it out?

GATES: No, I haven't even given him General McChrystal's request for resources. I have the -- I -- I'm receiving the -- the report. I'm going to sit on it until I think -- or the president thinks -- it's appropriate to bring that into the discussion of the national security principles.

Really? That's not part of the conversation already? If I believed Gates I'd ask what the hold-up was, but I don't.

This malarkey about tactics vs strategy is just as ridiculous as the last time we had a tactics-vs-strategy debate. COIN is the only way to go.

My current assessment of Secretary Gates is that he's a very politically attuned creature who will say and do what he thinks he needs to in order to avoid what he perceives as worst case scenarios for the military. I think we have seen this in the arguments about missile defense (there is still a scaled-back program) and on defense appropriations generally. I think he genuinely has the military's best interest at heart, but will make any compromise necessary to further it. He's a man who will take what he can get and be happy with it. (In retrospect, this assessment was probably equally true of Gates under Bush.)

(3) It's a good thing the military is no longer being politicized... oh wait... "Obama told Petraeus and McChrystal to "scrub" assessments". My bad.

(4) We will take care of our veterans... unless they happen to be WWII era Alaska Territorial Guard. Screw them. Those 26 guys were really breaking the bank...

(5) Oh, and about that scaled back missile defense. Bad move.

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